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Shecter writes: "A conservative challenged liberal Facebook friends to 'make a case, not based on emotion' against Trump's wall. Conservative buddies flooded his post with snide remarks about how this would be impossible for 'deluded libs.'"

Border wall. (photo: Getty)
Border wall. (photo: Getty)

How to Challenge a Trump Supporter About the Wall

By Vicky Alvear Shecter, Medium

10 January 19


conservative challenged liberal Facebook friends to “make a case, not based on emotion” against Trump’s wall. Conservative buddies flooded his post with snide remarks about how this would be impossible for “deluded libs.”

“Okay, I’ll play,” I responded. And in order to avoid being accused of bias, I explained that I would use only conservative sources to prove my point. My primary source was a policy paper by the Cato Institute, a conservative, rightwing think tank, along with other conservative voices (listed at the end of the piece). Here’s why I’m against the wall, I wrote:

1. Walls don’t work. Illegal immigrants have tunneled underneath and/or erected ramps up and down walls to simply drive over them. People find a way. When East Germany erected its wall, it created a military zone, staffed by booted, machine-gun carrying guards ready to shoot to kill. Yet thousands managed to make it to West Germany anyway. More to the point, do we really want to model ourselves after communist East Germany?

2. Most illegal immigrants are “overstayers.” They come to the US legally — for vacations, business, to study, etc. — and then STAY past their visas. By 2012, overstayers accounted for 58% (THE MAJORITY!) of all unauthorized immigrants. A wall is meaningless here!

3. Walls have little impact on drugs being brought in to the US. According to the DEA, almost all drugs come in through legal points of entry, hidden in secret containers and/or among legit goods in tractor-trailers. A wall will have little to no impact on the influx of drugs into our country.

4. It’s environmentally impractical. Walls have a hard time making it through extreme weather. For example, in 2011, a flood in Arizona washed away 40 feet of STEEL fencing. Torrential rains and raging waters do serious damage. Also, conservative sources generally do not address the environmental harm that walls create, but there is plenty of documentation available that show its potential for irreparable damage to both plant and animal life.

5. A wall would forces the U.S. government to take land from private citizens in eminent domain battles. Private citizens own much of the land slated for the wall. The costs of the government snatching private land — and the legal battles that would ensue — are incalculable.

6. Border patrol agents don’t like concrete or steel walls because they block surveillance capabilities. In other words, they can’t mobilize correctly to meet challenges. So in many ways, a wall makes their job more difficult.

7. Border patrol agents say, “Walls are meaningless without agents and technology to back them up.” Are we prepared to pour countless billions annually — after the wall is built — to create a nearly 2,000 mile, militarized 24-hour surveillance border operation? Because according to patrol agents, that’s the only way a wall would work. Again, are we really, going to use East Germany, a brutal communist state, as our model here?

8. Where walls have been built, there was “no discernable impact on the influx of unauthorized aliens.” In other words, they came in elsewhere, primarily where natural barriers such as water or mountainous regions precluded a wall.

9. An unintended consequence is that a wall blocks farmworkers from EXITING when their invaluable seasonal work is done. Farmers are against the wall because it makes getting cheap seasonal labor almost impossible as few American citizens want or can even do those jobs. And if seasonal worker do get in, a wall makes it harder for them to leave! A wall traps migrant farm laborers in our country.

10. Trump’s $5 billion is a laughable drop in the bucket for what would ACTUALLY be needed. For example, according to the Cato Institute: An estimate for a border wall area that only covered 700 miles was originally 1.2 billion. How much did it REALLY cost? SEVEN BILLION. And that’s only for 700 miles. Whatever we think it’s going to cost, experience shows us we have to multiply it by more than 500%.

11. According to MIT engineers, the wall would cost $31.2 billion. Homeland Security estimates it at $22 billion. Given the pattern of spending mentioned in number 10 (plus Murphy’s Law), that means we’re really talking about pouring endless billions into something that doesn’t even work. And, of course, we taxpayers will be footing the bill, not Mexico. Given all the drawbacks, is that REALLY the best use of our taxes?

As the conservatives of the Cato Institute put it, “President Trump’s wall would be a mammoth expenditure that would have little impact on illegal immigration.” (Emphasis mine) Also it would create many “direct harms:” “the spending, the taxes, the eminent domain abuse, and the decrease in immigrant’s freedoms of movement.”

And, we must add, since conservative sources do not — that the environmental harms are likely to be severe.

In other words, the facts show that walls don’t work and they create even bigger, more expensive problems.

So what happened after I posted this conservative-sourced, fact-based list of why the wall is a bad idea?


I waited for someone to respond, to engage with me. Where were the angry defenses or rebuttals? But when I searched for the post after a few days, I couldn’t find it.

My FB friend had deleted it. You could say, like Trump with the government, he shut me down rather than deal with the facts.

The ugly genius of Trump is his ability to manipulate deep, primal emotions — namely fear and hate. He, along with Fox News, have convinced his base that they are in “extreme danger” from immigrants and only a wall will make them “safe.”

Unfortunately, the need to “feel” safe is much stronger than the will to grapple with a complex, multi-faceted problem.

And so, here we are, paralyzed by shutdowns at every turn.

Conservative Sources Outlining the Uselessness of Trump’s Wall:

The Cato Institute:

Former Reagan staffer and Tea-Party liaison:

Chicago Tribune (conservative paper):

The National Review (conservative magazine):

Nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI) think tank:

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